Kenya national women’s polo team staged a surprise win against the United States to win the Bombay Stock Exchange Cup in the Statehood Day International tournament at the Imphal grounds, Manipur State, India yesterday.
Kenya won 5-4 in a spectacular comeback after trailing the US in the first part of the match.
“I am so proud of each of the players. What a fantastic team of ladies. To come and win a tournament against three other continents with some tough teams was quite a feat” Rowena Stichbury, the Nairobi Polo Club vice-captain said.
“We are really honoured to represent Kenya and fly the flag high and to leave with the cup was a bonus.” She added while also thanking India’s ministry of tourism — Incredible India for hosting and sponsoring the tournament.
The match is organized such that each team has 10 horses for 2 chukkas and at half time they swap them to ensure no team has a horse advantage.
Both team won some prize money which they donated for conservation.
National women’s team will face United States of America in the final of the third edition of the Statehood Day International tournament tomorrow at Imphal grounds in Manipur State, India.
The Kenyan team, captained by North Kenya Polo Club’s two goaler Tiva Gross sailed to the finals on an unbeaten run.
In a one-sided pool ‘A’ tie, Gross who teams up with four handicap zero players including Rowena Stichbury, Nicola Barlow, Imogen Voorspuy and Kaila Millar beat India Polo Association outfit 9-3 yesterday to cruise to the final.
Kenya begun their campaign by beating Manipur Thangjing 5-2 on Wednesday. Yesterday, Kenya proved too strong for the Indian national team from the very start with Gross notching in the opener 30 seconds into the first chukka. She then gave Kenya the second goal one minute 50 seconds later.
Millar added another for 0-3 but Monica Saxena reduced the gap towards the end of the opening chukka for a 1-3 scoreline.
The skipper was on target once again 55 seconds into the second chukka to complete her hat-trick. Gross then retrieved to the backline and together with Kaila, they ruthlessly locked out the Indians from Kenya’s area. Kenya pressed the Indian side in their own half yielding in a goal through Barlow as they headed for the break.
On resumption, Millar scored the sixth goal 55 seconds into the penultimate chukka. Barlow gave Kenya the seventh goal as Voorspuy made it 1-8 a minute and 18 seconds later.
A quarter a minute into the last period, Saxena hit in India’s second goal before Barlow completed her hat-trick for 2-9 in a chukka where Stichbury starred for Kenya on and off the ball. Saxena scored the third for India before the two lineups battled to a goalless 3:55 minutes.
“I was so proud of the Kenya girls, we pulled together to make some fantastic plays and carry the team to the final,” said Gross who felt the lead at half time was huge enough for her to leave the pitch and leave Kenya to play off handicap zero.
“Unbelievably, the third chukka ended up as one of the strongest with Millar playing at the back and hitting some great balls up to her forwards,” she added.
On their way to the finals, USA narrowly edged Australia 3-2 in their last group match. They had earlier shared spoils with Manipur Marjing 3-3. Millar said: “We were almost certain we would meet Australia in the final as they were looking like the strongest competition but lost by just one goal to the USA.”